Amber

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Amber is the ancient fossilized resin of trees that grew in forests millions of years ago. Over the eons, chemical and physical changes occurred, fossilizing the resin to produce what we know today as amber. Research indicates that amber ranges from about two million to 360 million years in age, although most gem quality amber is between 10 million and 50 million years old. Hardened resin that is significantly younger than amber, is known as copal. Although the age boundary that differentiates amber from copal is still debated, copal is considered to be less than 10 million years old, with a large proportion being significantly younger.

Amber Polished
Amber Classification
Common Name Amber
Species Organic
Amber Optical Properties
Transparency Transparent - Opaque
Dispersion Strength: None
Refractive Index 1.540
Tolerance:(+0.005/-).001)
Birefringence 0
Optic Character NA
Optic Sign NA
Polariscope Reaction Singly Refractive (SR) With ADR
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert to moderate yellowish green to orange yellow, white to bluish white to blue
LWUV: Inert to strong yellowish green to orange yellow, white to bluish white to blue
Pleochroism None
Amber Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 2.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 1.000-1.100 Range:0.02/-0.08 Typical:1.080
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Amber will show a "Sun spangle" effect due to the stone being heated in oil. Stones might also show gas bubbles and flow lines. Sometimes included with insects or other organic and inorganic materials. Stones that have been created by compressing smaller pieces of amber will sometimes show the boundary layers of the original material. Plastic imitations with inserted insects will have a boundary layer surrounding insect.
Luster Waxy, Resinous
Stability Poor
Fracture Conchoidal
Cleavage None
Amber Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name succinic acid
Chemical Formula C12H2OO fossilized plant resins
Crystal System NA
Chemistry Classification Organic

Amber Colors

  • Blue Amber Blue
  • Yellow Amber Yellow
  • Red Amber Red
  • Orange Amber Orange
  • Green Amber Green
  • Brown Amber Brown

Alternate Names

Resinite, Ambrite

Countries of Origin

Colombia; Myanmar; Unknown; China; Russian Federation (the); Dominican Republic (the); Poland; Lithuania; Ethiopia

History

Amber is millions of years old and glowing with golden warmth. Treasured for its clear beauty and inviting color, amber ranges from pale yellow to deep orange and occasionally even green, red, or blue. Most often clear, amber can have smokey swirls within it. Some amber also contains insects or bits of flora. Amber with these inclusions is highly desirable. Amber is an organic gemstone made from tree resin, then preserved for millions of years and turned to stone. Most of the world's amber is mined in the regions on the coasts of the Baltic and North Seas. When mined in those regions, amber is sometimes called Baltic Gold. Amber is also mined in the Dominican Republic.

Care

Amber is a 2 - 2 ½ on the Mohs scale and is best worn in a well-protected setting. It makes necklaces with genuine warmth and brooches that seem to glow from within. Amber is not a stone to wear every day. It should never be placed in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner; never use chemicals to clean amber. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

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More About Amber

Contemporary folklore ascribes to amber the ability to provide wisdom. It's associated with the Sacral Chakra, that is, the root of all sensual pleasure. Amber objects that date to 3700 BC have been found in Estonia. In the middle ages in Europe it was in high demand as a rosary stone. Once upon a time, amber was called the nectar of the setting sun… Perhaps you are drawn to amber by its history... perhaps its rich colors call you... maybe folkloric claims appeal... maybe you simply love the rich colors of the stone. No matter what draws you, your amber is here. It's waiting for you.

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Tim Matthews

Author

Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.